'Skyfall' Opens Strong in Canada on Imax and UltraAVX Screens

 Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

TORONTO – The latest James Bond film, Skyfall, is on course for a huge opening weekend at the Canadian multiplex, after Cineplex on Wednesday at midnight drew strong box office numbers on its Imax and UltraAVX screens.

“We had a limited number of screens, but they looked quite strong,” Ellis Jacob, CEO of Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex, told the Hollywood Reporter Thursday.

Jacob added the exhibitor has secured strong pre-sales for Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Jacob also expects Peter Jackson’s first installment of the Hobbit franchise to out-perform in Canada, compared to the U.S., based on the earlier experience with Lord of the Rings franchise.

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The earliest figures for Skyfall are noteworthy because Canadian box office receipts have been soft of late.

Cineplex, reporting its third quarter results Thursday, indicated the recent multiplex shoot-out between The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider Man helped the exhibitor double its third quarter earnings.

Theater attendance for the Toronto-based exhibitor was 18.3 million during Q3, against 18.5 million during the same period of 2011.

Cineplex was helped by Dark Knight and Amazing Spider Man ending up as its best summer blockbuster performers during the latest frame, by premium ticket pricing and $8.6 million in first-time revenue contribution from four former AMC theaters in the major Toronto and Montreal markets recently added to its countrywide chain and aiming to be turned from loss-making theaters into profitable ones.

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In the end, third quarter earnings rose 101 percent ot $51.7 million, on total revenues of $281.4 million, compared to $276.7 million in 2011.

Cineplex reported record quarterly concession revenues of $85.9 million, up 4.6 percent compared to the prior year.

That helped offset the slight fall in theater attendance for Cineplex, which was smaller than the 5 percent year-on-year reduction in box office revenue industry wide for the three months to September 31, 2012, according to the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada.

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Jacob insisted he didn’t see the recent lackluster box office performance as a trend, as only two top-five films during the latest quarter – The Amazing Spider Man and Ice Age: Continental Drift -- were 3D titles, compared to four in the same period of 2011.

Cineplex, like other major exhibitors, is able to secure premium ticket pricing for 3D titles that are featured in its circuit.

The top-five films offered by Cineplex during Q3 represented 48.5 percent of total box office revenue, against 41.6 percent of the same period in 2011 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows 2 and Transformers Dark of the Moon drove ticket receipts.

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